I’m a barely functional adult who struggles to leave the house most of the time. My flat is my cave, where I hide from responsibilities and bad dates alike.
As a broke writer, my flat is also tiny. I have no bay windows – because who the fuck has bay windows in London – and hence no room for a reading nook. Couple that with a creeping sense of melancholy and the remedy is clear: blanket fort.
Like any reasonable blanket-fort-building thirtysomething, I decided to skip amateur hour and build a goddamn professional-grade blanket fort. One that would serve as a reading nook, a nap capsule, and a shelter from the woes of existence.
As I established that time I built a desk, I’m no DIY expert. I’m just a man with a broken heart, an electric screwdriver, no adult supervision, and way too much free time.
2. You will need a bed.
This is my bed. It’s a king-size bed but it should be called “giant size” because I am not a king, but am quite literally a giant. Or figuratively. But still, I’m 6’4. I need a big bed.
Most people build blanket forts on floors or couches, but I’m not fucking about here – this is a professional operation.
Also, my floor is 99% lava.
3. Buy a tent.
My dad once told me to get a fucking job. Similarly, you don’t need the whole tent, just the poles. Try to buy a tent with a similar surface area as your bed. I got mine for £15 from Argos.
It’s a pretty shitty tent, but the poles do the job. If you still aspire to excellence then I hate to break it to you, but this project is not for you. The only way to survive the mind-numbing banality of existence is to resign yourself to adequacy.
4. Salvage the pole pins.
These pole pins are attached to the corners of the tent. You can usually take them off without cutting the tent, but my ex Julie cut my heart to pieces for no reason, so don’t let good sense stop you.
My flat is about 75% tote bag at this stage, so I cut the handles off a surplus tote into four strips of webbing. If you don’t have a surplus tote bag then you’ve obviously never been the fuck outside because people literally throw tote bags at each other in a game of tote one-upmanship that will end us all.
We are drowning in them. Go get one.
5. Tie the webbing to the pole pin.
“Tying the webbing to the pole pin” is not a euphemism for masturbation, but don’t let that stop you.
A simple knot pulled tight will do the trick. Try to get the tails of the webbing equal length. When finished they should resemble a pin pulled from a craft grenade, which is probably a thing you can buy on Etsy.
6. Place the pin at the corner of the bed.
Move the mattress first. If you don’t have a bed like mine, sucks for you. A box spring still has a wooden frame, so there should be something to affix the webbing to. If this is too hard, give up now: You don’t deserve a professional goddamn blanket fort.
7. Screw it.
I used a single 20mm woodscrew for each strip of webbing. The screw isn’t long enough or wide enough to damage the bed frame, but will hold it securely.
The rings on the pole pins also make handy anchor points for a bit of light bondage, and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of light bondage?
You’ll need a bondage buddy of course, and if, like me, you’ve had your heart torn beating from your breast and thrown under a slowly moving roadsweeper, then it might be best to stick to the blanket fort plan.
8. Make the frame.
Replace the mattress, lock your poles together, then anchor one end to a corner, and bend it toward the opposite corner, fixing in place with the pole pins. Repeat for the second pole.
Use a small length of rope to tie the frame together at the top, where the poles cross.
Julie, if you’re reading this, that fitted sheet is 600 thread count Egyptian cotton. Does that Spanish waiter have 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets? I highly fucking doubt it. Enjoy your postcoital slumber on sub-luxurious bedding.
9. Here’s a macro shot of the knot I used to tie the poles together:
You need to use a knot that leaves a loop, like this. If you don’t know how to tie a knot like this, then go back in time, join the boy scouts, and come back when you’ve got your damn knot-tying badge.
If you’re not willing to time-travel then you’ll have to figure out a less elegant solution. Sometimes I doubt your commitment to professional-grade blanket forts.
10. This is why you need the loop:
That’s right, friends, my blanket fort has electrical lighting. The battery life on that bad boy is around 3.5 hours of glorious luminescence. Fuck you, teacher who said I’d never amount to anything.
I got this particular battery-powered LED lightbulb from a camping store. It has a handy carabiner to attach to the knot loop. It’s seren-fucking-dipity I tell you.
11. Check out this macro photo of fine cotton twill:
There is no need for this picture, but why buy a camera with a sweet macro function if you can’t impose it on people at all opportunities.
Amatuer blanket forts use blankets, but this is a professional operation and I’m slightly drunk, so I’m using a 3.5 metre x 2.7 metre painter’s dust cover. It’s cotton, tear-resistant, and unlike most blankets, can cover the huge surface area of the fort.
12. Drape the blanket over the frame.
Boom. You might be looking at this and thinking “tent bed”, but that’s because your mind is being blown by the sheer majesty of my blanket fort, and your mind cannot yet fathom its glory for you have no reference point to draw on.
Tuck the edges of the blanket under the mattress, leaving the free end untucked for unencumbered fort access.
13. Hook your lantern to the loop on the frame.
Now furnish your fort with soft fabrics. Yes, I am a grown man and I enjoy nothing more the soft feel of a faux fur-throw while I weep unselfconsciously.
Also, your blanket fort needs rules. Mine are:
1) If this blanket fort’s a-rockin’, what the fuck are you doing in my flat, and
2) Goonies never say die.
14. Turn out the main lights and see how cool it looks.
Very fucking cool.
Pat Benatar got it wrong: Love is blanket fort.
15. Now you are free to retire into your kingdom of soft fabrics and neutral colours with a boldly contrasting book.
Hear that? That’s the sound of Pinterest imploding.
And if you’re wondering, yes, that is a vintage first-edition Catcher in the Rye. I own 19 copies of the book – including four first editions of various printings – because I’m an emotionally stable human man who builds blanket forts in his spare time.
The fort cost me around £30 to build with the pure cotton drop cloth and tent, but it’s fully collapsible, so I can pop it up whenever I need to retreat even further from anything resembling an adult existence. And that, my faceless non-acquaintances, is priceless.
Julie, if you’re reading this, I still love you. I know Noah built Allie a house, but I’m no Ryan Gosling and a blanket fort is the best I can manage. There is room for two. Call me.